Dad rock, that most boring of genre of music, which encompasses everything from California country to blues-inspired folk, is so snooze-inducing the musicians who play it must be the most insipid people on Earth, right? Well, not exactly. There are some boring musicians who used to be hardcore af. Before they cleaned up, there were plenty of boring bands who were crazy back in the day. Like, chainsaw-through-a-hotel-room crazy. It’s time to expand your musical knowledge with this collection of crazy musicians who calmed down with age.
With a few notable exceptions, most of the musicians who were addicts covered here had their heydays in the '70s, when their brand of dad rock peaked. While some had continued success into the 2000s, many of these dad rock musicians who did hella drugs became so boring as time went on the world stopped listening, so they started racing yachts or opened tea shops.
It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a musician, no matter how boring the music, can get up to no good on the road. All of the crazy Led Zeppelin stories you've heard exist because four lads from England had lots of money and nothing to do for hours on end, so they got into witchcraft and started shoving fish into people. The same goes for everything you’ve heard about Ozzy Osbourne. But audiences expect crazy stories about those artists, whereas the boring AF dad rock artists on this list might actually surprise you with their shenanigans.
Everyone knows Billy Joel sucks. He's just the worst. His music is boring and he looks like the dad of every guy's high school girlfriend, the one who showed you his samurai sword collection.
It turns out that, while Joel was recording "rockers" like "Uptown Girl," he was also heavily into drugs. He told Howard Stern his song "Scandinavian Skies" is about heroin, saying:
"This was back in the late '70s, I think. We were in Amsterdam, and there was all this stuff going on, so I said 'Let me see what this is like.' It got me so high I didn't know how to deal with it. You just get way out, just go to another place, and you're into the blues. All you want to hear is the blues. You start drooling, and you get sick."
But that didn't stop Joel, who continued his hard partying New Jersey ways into his twilight years. In 2004, he crashed his third car in two years. That's dedication to being hardcore.
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When you think of Eric Clapton, what pops into your head? Lilting acoustic ballads? Middling white man blues rock? Well, that's probably because he used up all of his freaky powers in the '70s, doing drugs and shredding solos. In his enigmatically entitled autobiography, Clapton: The Autobiography, the guitarist describes how audiences absolutely loved it when he got super effed up and put on the worst shows possible.
"I'd wander off the stage and somebody... would have to try to persuade me to go back on. There seemed to be a post-psychedelia drunkenness that swept over everybody in the entertainment business during the early '70s. To be on stage, you were almost expected to be drunk. I remember doing one entire show lying down on the stage with the microphone stand lying beside me, and nobody batted an eyelid."
Clapton battled a three-year heroin addiction in the '70s. During the making of Derek and the Dominos' sole record Layla, the whole band was out of control with drugs and alcohol. Bandmate Bobby Whitlock recalls, "We weren't doing a bunch of drugs during our recording. But if you’re drinking whiskey and snorting cocaine and heroin it's still going to be in your system tomorrow."
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Everyone knows the grimiest Rod Stewart ever got as a solo artist was when he sang a cover of "Downtown Train" by Tom Waits, and even that's a pretty slick song choice. Most people probably don't even know he was in The Jeff Beck Group, a heavy-stomping proto hard rock band that paved the way for Led Zeppelin.
In the '70s, while Stewart was churning out barely passable rock-disco tunes like "If You Want My Body," he was also busy indulging a saucy predilection for Columbian nose candy. Admittedly, doing coke every once in a while doesn't make you party monster, but shoving nummy powder up your butt does qualify you for hardcore status, and shove it up his butt Stewart did.
Stewart later said of his salad days, "As far as the drugs are concerned, I was never an addict. I was never, you know, in rehab. It never affected my family or my relationships. I was just a social user." So social he shoved cocaine in his ass.
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Moby, the human equivalent to skim milk, has never struck anyone has being all that crazy. Even at its most experimental, his music is fairly danceable, and that one "thrash" record people talk about is just a high school jock's idea of what Minor Threat sounds like, with some dandy ambient tunes tacked on and a very '90s-sounding Mission to Burma cover shoved in the middle.
That was all to say Moby is fine but boring AF. However, in the '90s, Moby was losing his mind. He was living in New York City, DJing, hanging out with a dominatrix, dating strippers, and squatting in a warehouse with people who wanted to set him on fire. As you might be able to surmise, there was a liberal use of substances.
In an interview with the Guardian (the headline of which is "There were bags of drugs, I was having sex with a stranger") about his autobiography, Porcelain, Moby described the process of looking back at his life in the 90s:
"I still recognize that person, stumbling through life without much agency. There’s enthusiasm and a good work ethic, but ultimately complete cluelessness, being baffled by everything. It’s like being a snowball rolling down a mountain. The snowball might have started kind of pure, but by the end, it’s filled with dead squirrels and sticks and rocks and wellies and garbage. You’ve got this snowball at the end, but to what extent does it relate to or resemble that original snowball?”
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